Around the Bluhmin’ Town
Goodbye goofy road signs. Oh, Arizona Department of Transportation, we have had many giggles from your wild and witty electronic messages that give us, the bored and tired drivers, something to ponder. Now the Feds have sent their own message to all states – “Electronic Road signs must be simple, direct, clear and brief.” Why take away our joy?
Evidently, all states in our great nation were horrified by the new 2024 guidelines set forth by the U.S Federal Highway Administration. And after considerable pushback, the Feds have softened their stance a bit. Not meaning to create a “sign revolt,” the guidelines are just there to make sure all drivers can understand the messaging easily and quickly. Guess we’ll see exactly what that means for our signboards. Those beacons of light and humor that are intended to help, inform and entertain motorists are part of the Americana landscape.
“It’s the temperature, not the speed limit!” This sign on a hot summer day along I-17 always cracked me up. Especially when folks are driving 90 around the curves. “Going to visit your in-laws? Slow down! Show up late!” So true. This sign is often up around the holidays when people are speeding to go visit family (when they might rather be home watching a ballgame). What’s the rush?
Our country has some humorous signage, often thought up by the local residents. Now every State’s transportation department will have to ensure that their signage is “clear and concise.” Why change a thing? We drivers are not a bunch of dummies and can understand the meaning of “I’m just a sign asking a driver to use turn signals.” Well, most of us can.
Evidently, a stoned guy was going 45 miles per hour in the fast lane with turn signals on for five miles. When pulled over, the driver said, “But officer, the sign said I need to put on my turn signals.” Okay, can one fool spoil it for all of us? When the electronic message over Highway 101 reads, “Drive hammered, get nailed,” is this too ambiguous to not understand “don’t drink and drive?”
Drive in Alabama and you might read an electronic sign that says, “Slow down. Gator crossing.” Sounds clear to me. Yet, one woman stopped by the side of the road, to take photos of those crossing gators. Yep, that happened. One electronic board in Minnesota, (in honor of National Star Wars Day), read, “Hans says, Solo down. Leia off the gas.” And The Force was with us.
In Vermont, there is a sign posted around St. Patrick’s Day that reads, “Drive sober. You are someone’s pot of gold.” So lovely and thoughtful. On I-93 in Boston, there is a huge electronic sign that says, “Use Yah Blinkah.” Perhaps someone from out of state or a foreign country might be confused. I can hear the driver crying, “What is a blinkah? I can’t find it on my dashboard. Help!”
My favorite sign is a handmade one, stuck on the side of I-40 (Pothole Alley) that says, “For the love of God, fix the road!” Not ADOT approved. But very clear.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected] or visit www.aroundthebluhmintown.com.